The war is set to continue this Thursday but Manchester United face a battle to remain in this year’s Europa League after suffering a surprise defeat in Denmark last week at the hands of FC Midtyjlland. The Danish Superliga side came out on top 2-1 thanks to goals from Pione Sisto and Paul Onuacho which leaves the last 32 second leg tie at Old Trafford an uphill battle for the Red Devils.
A Danish fairytale turned into a red nightmare for Louis van Gaal as the pressure to keep his job went up another notch, the 800 hundred travelling fans certainly made their feelings known at full time after not only seeing their team muster 3 shots on target but also lose to team that hasn’t played competitively since December 10th. In the wake of losing Wayne Rooney to injury, Man United had to rely on their forgotten man Memphis Depay to give them an away goal which may be just enough for them to navigate the second leg in their favour.
Before the shock result took place Manchester United presence in the Thursday night tournament garnered much spectacle from pundits, fans and of course social media, their early Champions League exit was damaging for the fact Group B was very winnable for the 2 time champions, LVG’s side failed to navigate its way through PSV, Wolfsburg and CSKA Moscow but to be drawn against an unfashionable side from Denmark suggested the fail from grace van Gaal was hoping to curb. The shining light in the bleak season of United is the fact that a Champions League place can be earned through Europa League success,this has given the fans some hope of seeing United in Europe’s premier competition next season as their league form continue’s to wain. The former Bayern Munich boss mentioned before the first leg that he came to Man United to win trophies so another defeat on Thursday may just be the final nail in his coffin.
It wasn’t just the boss and the players that suffered on their visit to Denmark last Thursday, United fans who made their way to the MCH arena had to cough up a staggering £71 for a ticket , given Liverpool’s recent walk out protest over ticket prices, many United fans spent the day in Herning town centre unfurling banners and chants at their dismay, As one banner stated ‘Welcome to Scamdinavia’ it expressed the difference in cost t0 Southampton’s visit to FC Midtyjlland back in August were their fans were only charged £22. The capacity of the ground on the night was only 9,500 and FC Midtyjlland’s chairman was keen to point out the enormity of the tie, Ramus Ankerson stated “It’s a big game for us with a lot of demand so we feel it’s important we capitalise on that. Our fans have not complained about it.” To make matters worse, the view inside the MCH arena for away fans caused angst among many fans including MUFC Supporters trust CEO Duncan Drasdo who tweeted during the game ‘Aha – the £71 ticket view brought to you in association with @hankook @fedex @amstel @adidas @unicredit #brandvalues’
A wet and windy night on the European mainland was made even more difficult when United’s David De Gea suffered an injury setback in the warm up, Argentine understudy Sergio Romero was thrust into action and despite producing 3 great saves he couldn’t prevent his team conceding 2 goals, an unfamiliar back four of Smalling, Blind, McNair and Love were also culpable of mistakes as Jess Thorup’s men showed their resilience despite not playing for 71 days due to the Danish winter break. To emphasize the size of this victory for FC Midtyjlland, the 2014/2015 Danish champions were only formed in 1999, the year Man United won their famous treble, they suffered a 5-0 defest in the group stages to Napoli and had recently sold their star player Erik Sviachenko to Celtic in January.
Whatever happens in the last 32 second leg the Danish club can hold their head high and always look back fondly on the day they beat the famous Man United, although few would be surprised if they manage to pull of another landmark victory at Old Trafford in the return leg, fans of the Danish club would certainly have no problem paying £71 for that pleasure!